Taita sign classy South African

The Hutt News - - SPORT - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

Travis Muller has had to make some big sac­ri­fices to chase his dream of play­ing cricket for New Zealand.

Muller is play­ing for Taita and is look­ing to make the sort of im­pact that saw coun­try­men Neil Wag­ner and Grant El­liot be­come high pro­file Black Caps.

It is a long way from Capetown to Fraser Park but Muller ar­rived with an im­pres­sive crick­et­ing CV that in­cluded 42 first-class games for Western Province. A right arm fast bowler, he has taken 119 wick­ets with an ac­tion he com­pares to that of Ver­non Phi­lan­der.

Taita had a spot for an open­ing bats­man and Muller vol­un­teered to give it a go.

Al­though El­liot and Wag­ner are suc­cess sto­ries, there have been a lot of South Africans who have tried and failed.

Last sea­son Obus Pien­aar ar­rived with a classy record with the bat, in­clud­ing play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in the United King­dom and rep­re­sent­ing South Africa at age group level.

Al­though he did well in club cricket he was un­able to at­tract the in­ter­est of the Fire­birds and re­turned home.

Muller knows he has a huge chal­lenge in front of him and that at 24 he is tak­ing a gam­ble that might not pay off.

‘‘It is dif­fi­cult but I have the sup­port of my par­ents. They are both fully be­hind me. Even my girl­friend was not that fazed.’’

His girl­friend is com­ing out shortly to visit and Muller hopes to have good news for her.

When he ar­rived, he was in­volved in warm-up games for the Fire­birds. It was a spe­cial thrill to play on the Basin Re­serve and he hopes to get an op­por­tu­nity to play for Welling­ton A.

It will take him four years to meet the el­i­gi­bil­ity rules for in­ter­na­tional cricket. That’s a long time for a fast bowler and a lot can hap­pen in that time.

His ap­proach is to take it year by year and see what he can achieve.

His visa re­quires him to re­turn to South Africa af­ter eight months and that will give him an op­por­tu­nity to as­sess whether he wants to keep go­ing.

Com­ing to New Zealand has al­ready had one ben­e­fit for Muller. Taita were short of open­ing bats­men so Muller de­cided to put his hand up.

His first two scores were 46 and 49 not out. If he can en­joy sim­i­lar suc­cess with the ball, he might achieve his dream of play­ing for the Black Caps.

If he does, he knows ex­actly who he wants to copy.

‘‘[South African fast bowler] Dale Steyn, I have met him quite a few times off the field and he is just awe­some.’’

As well as be­ing a fear­some fast bowler, Steyn is known for his ag­gres­sive on-field be­hav­iour.

Muller said Steyn was very dif­fer­ent off the field and he ad­mired the way he played but and then was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son off the pad­dock.

Taita are us­ing him to coach in lo­cal schools and as­sist­ing the Hutt In­ter­na­tional Boys School first eleven.

NI­CHOLAS BOYACK/ STUFF

South African im­port Travis Muller is help­ing coach chil­dren as he chases his dream of play­ing for the Black Caps.

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